Lake Gillette and Greenleaf Overlook, November, 2010

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

Today's hike to Lake Gillette and onward to Greenleaf Overlook was especially fun because it was almost entirely on on the PCT in Washington. And of course, it was new to me, so that's always nice! The Autumn leaves were their usual brilliant gold, red, and green and the creeks were running high since we've had so much rain lately. It wasn't especially difficult or long, which made it the perfect 'day out' and allowed me to really enjoy the sunshine.

The trail - 7.6 miles
Elevation Profile. I don't know why this has me starting at 400 feet underwater. I can
assure you that I started a ground level ;)

Strong winds gusted through the Gorge all morning, which made for delightful hiking in the woods (in the places that weren't clear-cut, that is). At one point, I was hiking around a ravine and a big gust of wind roared through the valley, dislodging hundreds and hundreds of golden leaves. They swirled around, up and down, in no hurry to get to the ground and for a moment I could pretend that I was inside a big snow-globe, but one which used little flakes of gold instead of 'snow'. It was really lovely, so peaceful and quiet.

This is what clear-cut looks like


golden foliage

my trail goes that way!

The lakes I passed (Gillette and Kidney) were mostly deserted, and I watched the water ripple in the breeze for a long time before heading inland toward the Greenleaf Overlook. Along the way, I met a wonderful, elderly couple who stopped to chat with me for a while and regaled me with tales of building the PCT back in 1940. The man told me about one time that he was out on a trail-working expedition with his father, who was a local forest ranger, and they met one of the first PCT thru-hikers coming north from California. The man told me that his father never really understood the idea of hiking for recreation, but that this particular thru-hiker had quite an impact on his opinions afterwards.

The work crew invited the hiker to camp with them that night and to share their dinner and swap stories. As the evening progressed, it came out that the hiker was an animator at Disney in Los Angeles. He told the ranger that hiking was one of the favorite past-times of the Disney animation crew and that many of their inspirations, such as Woody Woodpecker's laugh, were drawn from PCT day-hikes. To prove his point, the man took one of the crew's working maps and drew a big Donald Duck on it, as a way of thanking them for all their hard work. The man that I talked to today said that it was nearly 60 years before he saw that drawing again; that his father kept it with his important ranger papers and only when he passed away did the drawing surface. I think it belongs in a PCT Museum!

Yay, I'm on the PCT!

Lake Gillette

neat log bridge

Table Mountain looms over me

I thought that was a neat story, and it just proves to me something that I think I've known for a long time: that hiking and being in nature inspires my mind, tickles my fancy, and spurs me to laugh and love more deeply than I would ever have thought possible. Obviously, I can't draw a lick, but I can certainly understand that animator's affection for the trail. You see? You never know who you might meet out there. I wish I could have hiked with that couple some more, because they sure knew the area. They've been hiking in Oregon all of their lives, and I'm pretty sure that guy was nearly 80. He said his dad came to Oregon 'to be a ranger' in 1904, and that they met the animator in 1940. I hope I can still hike when I'm 80! And I hope I have a bunch of interesting things to say!

another neat bridge for me

my lunch spot!

boo to clear-cut

yes, there are people (like me) who need signs such as this. Sigh.

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